Patchogue native Chrisette Michele did not perform as planned Thursday as part of the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial, along with country singer Toby Keith and rockers 3 Doors Down.
Michele’s management told Newsday Thursday morning that she was expected to perform later that day. However, The Grammy winner is now expected to be part of the official presidential inaugural balls on Friday. A call and email to Michele’s manager for further clarification Thursday evening were not returned.
Michele defended her decision to be part of Donald Trump’s inauguration celebrations, saying that she wants to help heal the country.
“This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us,” Michele wrote in a statement on her Rich Hipster website. “Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind ‘These Stones,’ if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Those “stones” Michele referred to were flying quickly at the Grammy-winning R&B singer Wednesday, as word leaked out about her participation in the inauguration and an overwhelming number of fans asked her to reconsider. Director Spike Lee wrote on Instagram Thursday that he was thinking of using Michele’s song “Black Girl Magic” in his upcoming Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It,” but after her involvement in the inauguration he no longer will. The Roots’ drummer Questlove tweeted that he would pay Michele’s appearance fee if she opted not to perform.
However, Michele’s statement made it clear that this wasn’t about money. “”My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us,” she wrote. “I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain ... I am here. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters.’ I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”
Michele had canceled a gig scheduled for Thursday night at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ.
Michele scored a No. 1 album with “Epiphany” and landed a Grammy for best urban/alternative performance in 2009. The in-demand collaborator of Jay Z and Rick Ross released her fifth album, “Milestone,” last year on her own label, Rich Hipster.
More coverage from Trump’s inauguration: